Allow other users to mark topics as answered

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Allow other users to mark topics as answered

23 Nov 2017, 07:15

In some of our forums, at least in the "Ask for Help" forum, some topics have an icon next to them with a white check mark in a green box, indicating that they are resolved.

This helps not only future readers of the forum, but also those of us who check the forum to help others, because we can skip those topics. But only very few topics are marked that way. In fact, a little investigation* revealed that only 17% of the topics have that icon, while the vast majority of resolved topics are missed, which directly hurts helpers as well as future readers.

Because I was motivated to improve this dire situation, I wanted to mark some obviously solved ones. When I couldn't, I realized the root of the problem: Marking a topic as resolved can apparently only be done by the OP. Unfortunately, but rather naturally, this is only done by a minority of OPs.

I therefore propose granting a similar button to other contributors. For them, the tooltip of the button could read "This should answer the issue" instead of "Accept this answer". Instead of a white checkmark in a green box, the icon could be a black checkmark in a yellow box (reversing contrast for accessibility). The tooltip of the icon could read "Topic has been answered" instead of "Topic is solved".

One could spin the idea further: The OP could be notified (either by mail or next time he/she logs in) and given a simple Yes/No choice whether he or she agrees that the answer solves the topic, in which case the yellow icon would change to a green one.

* Details of Investigation:
I checked the last 200 posts in the "Ask for Help" forum and counted 34 green icons. Dividing these 200 in two groups of 100 gives exactly the same count of 17 for each, which indicates that there is no significant change over time, such as one might expect if there were a delay in marking issues as resolved.

In addition, I looked at all unresolved topics on one exemplary page, ... &start=150. (There were 24 of them.) This showed that the following topics are obviously resolved in actuality:
  4. (originally resolved, but then a new question was added by someone without user information.)
  7. (username different for first question, but obviously the same person)
In the same sample, the following have been answered and are waiting for a response from the OP:
These counts amount to (7+10)/24= 71% of unmarked topics. If my sample can be seen as representative, it means that the extended button would increase the number of marked posts by (1-17%)×71%, that is, from 17% to 76%. For helpers this means we need to check only 24% of all posts, instead of 83%. In addition to the obvious direct benefits, it is my hope that this would further encourage people to help and thereby reduce the number of actually unanswered posts, resulting in a positive feedback loop that is beneficial to all.
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Re: Allow other users to mark topics as answered

23 Nov 2017, 14:51


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